Hall of Fame second baseman, hero, awesome enthusiast.
Famous children usually grow up to be terrible, terrible people, with very few exceptions: Jenny Lewis has done well for herself; Chelsea Clinton doesn’t really do anything, which is nice; and Ron Howard grew up to become the greatest narrator of all time. So while it might be a little soon to adhere similar hope to Candian actor-rapper Drake, things seem to be looking up.
See, he’s been on Degrassi: The Next Generation, a super-angsty Canadian TV show about teens and all the shit that happens in their lives that never, ever, ever happened in yours. But it’s got a cult following in America thanks to its marathons on “The N” (save the eye-rolls for Mother’s Day dinner, please). Somewhere along the way, Drake (nèe Aubrey Drake Graham) started rapping. And all things considered, he’s pretty good at it.
In spite of his dubious roots, Drake has amassed a stellar collection of friends, along with a handful of above-decent mixtapes. His most recent, So Far Gone, seems to have received the most attention. Bolstered by guest appearance from tour-mate Lil Wayne, Santogold, Lykke Li, and more (Wayne actually appears on four of the tape’s 16 tracks), it also has some nifty samples, including Peter Bjorn and John’s “Let’s Call It Off.”
(People you would care about if you were a Canadian tween, with Drake, center in wheelchair)
So Far Gone itself has mixed results. Drake seems a little over-influenced by Kanye West and all the Lil Wayne cameos splattered about get to be a little much. Kanye and Wayne are great; it’s just that the world already has a Kanye West, and babysitting him is tiresome enough without having to keep an eye on his baby brother, too. There’s also a lot of Autotune here, and whereas West and Wayne use it as a vocal effect, songs like “Sooner Than Later” sound more like an ill-advised Ginuwine comeback single (see the very “Pony”-y “Bria’s Interlude”).
(Drake, right, mid-silent contest with Lil Wayne)
What’s good about Drake is that he’s not making any attempts to score the next summertime jam, as his music is decidedly chill. So Far Gone lacks a single uptempo song, which is oddly refreshing. Drake isn’t hiding behind any over-the-top beats and there isn’t a sped-up Motown sample to found. And at a time when most hip-hop tracks average rougly eight guests, Drake is better when he’s on his own, free to own the song. That said, his first mixtape, 2006′s Room For Improvement, may end up being a better display of his talent: the guest appearances are few and low-profile, and the album as a whole is certainly more fun to listen to than So Far Gone.
Drake is also the type of rapper who wants you to know that he wants to be very good at what he does, and at age 22, he seems to be on his way. And with rhymes like, “Ain’t on the fence about it, I ain’t Mr. Feeney,” on “Unstoppable,” he represents a new generation of hip-hop artists that grew up in the 90s, just like you. At the very least, Drake absolutely seems like a rapper to watch. Once he finds his own voice, he could be very good. His rhymes are solid and the work ethic is there. He’s got time, too: his first studio album doesn’t come out later this year. It’s also hard to describe how refreshing it is to hear a rapper give props to T.O.R.O.N.T.O.
On So Far Gone‘s closer, “Brand New,” Drake asks, “Is anything I’m doing brand new?” Not yet, no. But here’s hoping that next time around, Drake commands a different answer.
A Degrassi-viewing source or whatever, has this to say about Drake’s character on the show:
His name is Jimmy Brooks and it took him two seasons after getting shot in the back during a school shooting to produce an erection he could be proud of. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to use it on then girlfriend Ashley because she broke up with him and went back to dating her stupid muffin-top hats. He finally was able to put his dick to work when he started dating Trina, who’s crippled just like he is. She is white, Canadian, crippled, and has cornrows. Jackpot, Jimmy…jackpot.